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News and events

News & events

A teen boy holding a catfish

Go Fish! camper raises funds for sturgeon restoration

May 21, 2020

(Photo courtesy Caramucci family)


Tony Caramucci is no stranger to the outdoors and the river. A sophomore at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School and member of the James River Leadership Academy, he was tasked to create a capstone project that would raise funding to provide environmental awareness.  Tony quickly decided the focus of his project would benefit Atlantic Sturgeon research conducted at the VCU Rice Rivers Center.    

Tony, whose parents are both VCU alumni, first became acquainted with the center and its research by attending one of the summer activities available to middle and high school students. “Rice Rivers Center is a program that is special to me because I participated in the center’s Go Fish! camp with Captain David Hopler for four summers,” said Tony. The weeklong camp teaches students about fishing, fish biology and aquatic ecosystems like the James.   

Tony sold 40 stainless steel reusable straws, which translated into a $300 gift for sturgeon conservation at VCU. When the leader of the Atlantic Sturgeon Restoration program, Matt Balazik, Ph.D., found out about the additional funding and how it came to be, he offered Tony a chance to name a male sturgeon. “Mooch” is estimated to have been born October 2003, and was tagged by Balazik’s team on September 6, 2013.  At that time, Mooch was about 58 inches and is estimated to now measure well over 6 feet.   The fish has returned to the waters off Rice Rivers Center every year since he was tagged. Tony will be informed when Mooch comes back to the James River this year.  

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